Amid summer full of changes, Bulls are placing faith in themselves
Pardon fans of the Chicago Bulls if they view
When a player has been as disappointing and overpaid as Deng has been just one year into his lavish, long-term $71 million contract, it's understandable that the locals might not be moved by whatever emotions or anguish he might feel in backing off a commitment to a team across the pond. In a non-Olympic year. While recovering from a stress fracture in his right tibia. While the Bulls still are waiting to get the best of Deng through 82 games plus a deep playoff run.
Still, no news is ... well, in the case of the Bulls, no news. Deng's decision to put first the team that committed to building itself around him is about all that passes for news around the Berto Center these days. While other contenders throughout the league engage in a protracted bout of high-stakes one-upsmanship that has been fairly exhilarating, Chicago has opted to do next to nothing. It has taken the tease and the potential of the Bulls' unexpected and remarkable seven-game playoff clash with the Boston Celtics and has wrung it dry of promise, thanks to an improvement-from-within attitude that even the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic would be embarrassed to peddle.
But even approach requires a best-case interpretation of
But those who say Gordon would have cost the Bulls upwards of $20 million annually -- putting any luxury-tax burden solely on his contract, as the latest done -- are just fiddling with numbers to rival any Washington stimulus committee. Sorry, too, if we're not convinced by owner
"There's no question we'll miss some of the things Ben gave us, the ability to have big scoring quarters, his ability to make shots, especially at the end of games" Del Negro told
Hopefully. It's hard to make plans for May and June on hopefully.
There is evidence that Salmons could pick up most of Gordon's scoring slack, stemming largely from the 35 points he scored in the triple-overtime Game 6 victory vs. Boston. Salmons didn't so much blossom when he got to Chicago as emerge from under that bushel in Sacramento; his stats were amazingly similar before and after the trade (18.4 ppg, 37.4 minutes, 47.2 percent FG shooting, 41.8 three-point shooting in 53 games with the Kings, 18.3 ppg, 37.7 minutes, 47.3 FG, 41.5 three-point in 26 regular-season games with the Bulls). But he's 29 years old, is with his third team and never averaged more than 12.5 points before last season.
Then there's this: Gordon at least was headstrong enough not to yield entirely to Rose, the rookie who instantly was seen as the Bulls' all-everything guy. It's almost a certainty that Rose will try to score more now, even though his team and he might be better off if he actually tried to score less. Remember Game 1 of the playoffs, when Rose thrust his name up there with legends like
The draft yielded
Since the draft, Chicago has been toyed with as a destination for Utah forward
Contenders hither and yon are reconfiguring and seemingly improving themselves, while Chicago has to count on Deng, who has missed 52 games the past two seasons, along with this year's playoffs. Meanwhile, as new general manager
"It's an important year for us because we want to grow," Forman told Smith. "We think we've got a team that will compete."
Really? Subtract Gordon, add